Tonight I’ll be on the Bike Talk NYC radio show with Keegan and Nadette.
We’ll be talking about the book I co-authored, Bike NYC, with photographer Ed Glazar and award winning author Marci Blackman. We’ll also be talking about how it’s NOT ok to Kill cyclists or pedestrians in the wake of recent tragedies.
Since the publishing of the “Is it Ok to Kill Cyclists?” op-ed in the Sunday NY times (11/9/13) by Daniel Duane, there has been a number of responses as the article has made the rounds through bicycle blogs and other related publications.
The main point of Duane’s piece, although not entirely clear (at least not to this blogger) was to illustrate how drivers rarely face criminal charges after hitting and killing cyclists, even when the motorist is at fault. The opinion gave some vague examples but didn’t do a good job of finding details about why motorists aren’t prosecuted or if cyclist fatalities are even investigated.
In fairness to the author, Daniel Duane did appear on a radio program to clarify his position and continue to champion the cause that drivers seem to be getting away with murder.
There was also a well done NPR piece over the weekend that brought up a discussion about whether the bikes should be treated like cars in regards to current traffic laws and how cities are designed, especially with the rise in the popularity of bike sharing programs.
On this week’s episode of Gabfest Radio, Political Gabfest panelists Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson, and David Plotz discuss what happens if healthcare.gov doesn’t work by Nov. 30, and whether bikes should be treated like cars.
The radio program used Duane’s piece as an example that it’s NOT, OK to kill cyclists while citing the opposite side of the coin, People who apparently think it’s perfectly fine (to kill cyclists) and uses the old argument that we deserve it because of our blatant violation of traffic laws. (laws designed for motor vehicles) Case in point, Christopher Caldwell from the Weekly Standard.
Drivers Get Rolled
Bicyclists are making unreasonable claims to the road—and winning
November 18th, 2013
Cyclists like the ones in New Hampshire, whose reckless riding and self-righteousness have earned rolled eyes nationwide and the nickname of “Lycra louts” in England, have tested the public’s willingness for compromise. As bicyclists become an ever more powerful lobby, ever more confident in the good they are doing for the environment and public health, they are discovering—to their sincere surprise—that they are provoking mistrust and even hostility among the public.
Mostly this op-ed is an excuse to continue the defensive gross generalization of cyclists being mostly rich middle age liberals who are not blue collar enough. Caldwell venomously spews:
“They are, to judge from their blogs, more aggrieved by delivery trucks parked in bike lanes than drivers are by delivery trucks parked in car lanes. This may be because proportionately fewer of them have ever met a person who drives a delivery truck.”
He does make a few points that roadways are outdated and don’t include the physical space for bicycles. Also, there are some valid points that biking is healthy for both people and the planet, but most cyclists are just too self righteous and think they own the roadways so therefore it’s Ok to run a few over.
Somehow it seems that if you choose to ride a bicycle as a form of transportation, you’re somehow expected to act like cars and be their equal, but if your hit by one, then your treated like less than equal. In an attempt to reclaim a sense of humanity, that actual lives have been lost, letters to the editor of the NY Times evoke similarities to pedestrians.
In direct response to the Daniel Duane piece…
From the Opinion pages of the NY TIMES
Caution: Danger in the Traffic Lanes
By: David Berman
November 10th, 2013
No, it is not O.K. to kill cyclists with impunity, but neither is it O.K. to kill pedestrians, which happens a couple of hundred times a year in New York City. The problem is not a cultural predisposition against bicyclists; it is that nobody obeys traffic laws anymore, and that’s at least partly because nobody is enforcing them.
Bike Kill is an amazing event of mutant bicycle mayhem put on every year by the NYC chapter of the Black Label Bicycle Club. Besides the spectacle of bizarre welded bicycle contraptions that seem to defy logic, the best part about this event is that the tall bikes and choppers are left out and encouraged for the community to try them and enjoy the thrill of both bike and sport.
Often the contraptions themselves are works of art compounded with the fact that they are kinetic. Sometimes the design of the bikes themselves gets overlooked as the rituals of riding while drinking a six pack duct taped together or crashing into huge plastic barrels of a form of bowling, takes over.
One photographer, Joshua P. Kristal, did a great job of documenting a lot of the bikes at this year’s tenth anniversary of Bike Kill 2013:
“TAKE a dash of “Mad Max,” add a pinch of “Jackass,” sprinkle both over a wet batter of art students, bicycle messengers, anarchist welders and militant anti-globalist vegans, then let the mixture bake for, say, a decade in the oven of Brooklyn, and the resulting dish should taste a little like the Black Label Bike Club.” from the New York Times article of 2001.
This club hosts an annual event called “Bike Kill” and its simply nuts. ”The annual Black Label event called Bike Kill, which one member, a disc jockey known professionally as D. J. Dirtyfinger, described as “a full day of freedom, via mayhem, on the street.” With jousting competitions and displays of bicycle finery, Bike Kill is a “pure celebration of being creative with bikes and on bikes,” he said, adding, “It can’t really be explained — you have to be there.” from the same NYT story.
Come test ride the cargo bike of your dreams! Help us replace cars in NYC!
Meet us at 4pm at Grand Army Plaza for a bike ride deep with our big bikes. Or, just come straight to the party at the Koz Kollective-268 Kosciusko St. after 7pm. There will be free food and cheap drinks. and maybe even a special performance by Bread and Puppet theater in the beautiful backyard. Dance party until late, as always.
We will be raffling off some goodies from our clients plus baked goods, services and more.
All-City Bicycles, started by Jeff Frane out of Minneapolis, makes really great bikes for urban commuting.
Jeff: “My goals with All-City are to make things that people who love bikes want to own, and to help steer the industry in ways that positively serve the riders and shops.”
Jeff recently attended the Philly Bike Expo (11/9 & 11/10/13) and wrote up a little report on the All-City Blog: Philadelphia Bike Expo
Jeff escaped to Austin just as I’ve returned from the Birthplace of America, the City of Brotherly Love. You know, that place from Rocky. Philadelphia.
I wasn’t able to smuggle a bike along for this one, but don’t you worry, I was still able to track down some shenanigans. Friday night, Bicycle Revolution’s and Knog hosted a down and dirty night ride about town. If there’s one thing I know about night rides, it’s that they’re bound to end up under a bridge somewhere. I headed down with the beverage crew and helped make sure everyone was properly hydrated.
Quite often I get these emails and texts from people alerting me of an article I should read about cycling. Often it’s from a credited publication like the NY Times so naturally it peaks my interest. Turns out, 9-10 times the op-ed or discussion is about some out-of-touch person who really doesn’t like biking and probably shouldn’t even be writing an article that does nothing for the activity but rather makes cycling hating drivers feel justified for their road rage or cycling enthusiasts defend themselves for their choice of transportation. As one of the laters I often feel obligated to chime in since the article itself is getting attention and it’s my job to help defend cycling. Luckily most of the time the arguments are weak, so my job is made easy. It’s also quite baffling how these people are given the word space, especially with the current state of publishing in the digital age.
I’m actually quite hungry for honest debate about whether cycling is a legitimate form of transportation but instead I get this:
The latest comes from some guy named Daniel Duane from San Francisco who was fortunate to have his opinions published in the New York Times on Sunday.
Is It Ok To Kill Cyclists?
Right away, Duane illustrates my point about being a hater with a description of himself: “SAN FRANCISCO — EVERYBODY who knows me knows that I love cycling and that I’m also completely freaked out by it.”
Ah, that’s funny cause I know a lot of writers on the subject of cycling and somehow, I’ve never heard of you…must be a West Coast thing. Next he says:
Duane: “I got into the sport for middle-aged reasons: fat; creaky knees; the delusional vanity of tight shorts. Registering for a triathlon, I took my first ride in decades.”
I’m not sure a triathlon is the best place to start cycling…seems a bit extreme, how about just going to get a delicious burrito in the Mission or a leisurely cruise across the Golden Gate bridge.
Duane: “Wind in my hair, smile on my face, I decided instantly that I would bike everywhere like all those beautiful hipster kids on fixies. Within minutes, however, I watched an S.U.V. hit another cyclist, and then I got my own front wheel stuck in a streetcar track, sending me to the pavement.”
Yeah it’s called learning how to operate a vehicle, just like when you stalled in traffic on one of those hills trying to learn how to drive a stick shift. Oh the embarrassment.
The rest of this op-Ed goes on to point out how easy it is for cyclists to get killed by automobiles with little or no criminality attributed to the driver. Now being killed by a car for learning how to love cycling is a very hard lesson to swallow.
I don’t want to belabor over the East Coast vs West Coast thing, but really. One of my Co-Author of the book we did as a travel guide for biking in NYC, (bikenycthebook) Marci Blackman would often talk about biking in San Francisco where she lived for a long time. She would say she felt way more safe in NYC and that in SF the drivers have much more space to speed and how cyclists are treated much more as just being in the way. After all, just cause it’s up North and the birthplace of free lovin hippies, it’s still car culture America, California.
Next Saturday (11/23/13) is the amazing charity event known as Cranksgiving. If your curious about trying an alleycat race, this is the one for you. It’s fun, open to all levels and helps NYC’s hungry. You don’t have to be a speed demon, knuckle tattoo fixter.
Here is more from event organizer: Ken Stanek: “This year’s flyer by the supertalented Bruce Doscher / Cycling Posters who I was lucky enough to work with years ago and I somehow convinced to make me a poster. Go check out his stuff. It’s awesome.
Does anyone here not know how Cranksgiving works? You go buy food, and then you donate it. It’s an alleycat. The best one ever. And it happens in 40 or so places this year. Hoboken Hoboken is even having one on November 16th this year.
Sponsors (this list will grow – and if you’re interested in sponsoring, let me know! Flyers haven’t gone to print yet.)
Navigate the streets of the city and the aisles of grocery stores as you search for specific canned goods. Once you’ve collected all your receipts, all of your food will be donated to a local homeless shelter.
Cranksgiving helps feed hundreds of New Yorkers through our charities. This year, as more and more people find themselves in desperate times, Cranksgiving hopes to step it up and smash all previous records.”
Did you miss the Banksy craze of the British graffiti artist that turned NYC into his own gallery for the month of October? The anonymous artist was able to drive trucks around town with fake animals in it…
Plop down animatronic grim reapers in Noho and place a repainted work of art in Housing Works as a donation stunt. (which sold for 615,000 online) A lot of the artists work is more about the stunt and it’s rip on the art world in general, but it did tie directly into the core of graffiti and how it is digested by the public, making an urban environment a public gallery available to all. This seems even more necessary in a world like NYC where artistic culture is being gobbled up and replaced with mundane glass (unaffordable) housing like the case of the Atlantic Yards or 5 pointz unofficial graffiti museum in Long Island City, an on going debate.
The group Right of Way, who has been taking the visual message of unnecessary deaths of pedestrians and cyclists due to reckless driving, recently used Banksy’s attention grabbing residency to send a message of their own, that directly involved New Yorkers.
It was this blogger who designed the artwork, but it was the brave actions of ROW who was able to put this stencil piece up on 178th
where Alexian Lien was maliciously beaten by an angry motorcycle club while members of the NYPD (off duty) stood by and participated in the violence. Not only that, one of the officers was identified as infiltrating Occupy Sandy in order to spy on activist groups. Organizations like Time’s Up, cycling advocacy group, who provide positive things for NYC bikers have also recently been infiltrated by the NYPD. This is the message I wanted to send out while everyone was eagerly waiting to find out where the next Banksy would be. I felt this story was being missed, that while the police are eagerly cracking down on our bike rides and biking in general, they are also finding the time to spy on us and pretend to be actual members of our community. Then when it comes time for them to help us…they don’t blow their covers…and instead join in on the riot-or maybe it’s more about when their isn’t a riot…they create one.
So while outgoing mayor Michael Bloomberg was comenting on Banksy’s art residency saying, “”But look, graffiti does ruin people’s property and it’s a sign of decay and loss of control.” he might have taken a closer look at his own police force, that seems to be the ones out of control.
There is also a 1800 number listed on the stencil (1-800-646-8162) of our fake Banksy with a recorded message that speaks to the issues of police infiltration and lack of suspecting criminality in fatalities caused by motorists.
You won’t be able to find this piece of art, since it was immediately taken down. Probably, judging by the fact that the entire wood was removed instead of painted over, this was the work of someone who wanted to keep the piece.
However, Transportation Alternatives has given our #Cranksy action some recognition and also listed remaining sites of Banksy works with addresses that you can explore by bike as well as the nearest Citibike locations.
And one more note…
Well pedestrians continue to die on the streets due to reckless driving as in the case of two this past weekend (9 year old Derrek Callendar-father of 5, killed in the Bronx) The NYPD was busy arresting people for trying to claim Banksy’s final balloon piece. The Balloon’s were taken into custody as well.
Police Confiscate Banksy Balloons and Say They’re Not Art
Two men, who were later arrested, trying to remove a work by Banksy, the British street artist, in Long Island City, Queens, on Oct. 31. Photo by: Maurice Pinzon
By: Cara Buckley and J.David Goodman
November 5th, 2013
Banksy! is still in police custody — that is, the balloons that spell the British street artist’s name, as well as an exclamation point, are. And they may never get out.
Confiscated by the police from would-be thieves, the inflatable letters, which were Banksy’s parting gift to New York after a monthlong “residency,” have been impounded by the New York Police Department’s property clerk division.